Financial Planning

Tax Planning Strategies for Various Life Stages and Wealth Levels

Filing taxes is something we dread and fear each year, but with a little planning, taxes become less expensive and less bothersome. Tax planning not only aims to help save a bit of money, but also is important to avoid penalties, organize their documents, and prepare for the future. Failing to plan for taxes, conversely, is akin to throwing money down the drain.

Tax planning is especially crucial for people considering retirement. At this age, careers are winding down and families are preparing to rely on Social Security and retirement portfolios to support them for the next several decades. Depending on when someone retires, there may still be kids in college and mortgages to pay off. For these people, learning strategies that can lower taxes and protect assets is a must.

Below are some of the strategies that can lower taxes for people with differing tax situations.

Tax planning for high-income earners 

Simply put, the more money you make, the more opportunities there may be to benefit from smart tax planning.

Fully fund tax-advantaged accounts. You can lower your taxable income and possibly your tax bracket by moving as much money as possible into traditional IRAs, Roth IRAs, and Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Roth IRA conversions. With Roth IRAs, you can make 100-percent tax-free distributions when you retire, but some high-income earners are not allowed to make direct contributions to Roth IRAs. However, they can convert traditional IRAs into Roth IRAs. Conversions can be expensive upfront, but worthwhile over time. Aiming to fill up current tax brackets at efficient tax rates is key.

Charitable donations. The IRS allows taxpayers to deduct charitable cash donations of up to 60 percent of their gross income and non-cash donations of up to 30 percent. As a result, charitable contributions are among the most popular and common strategies for lowering tax bills. There are a number of options in the types of donations possible.

Optimizing assets. Investments differ in their tax efficiency, and you can often lower your tax bill by reviewing and reorganizing your assets. For instance, keeping mutual funds and ETFs that produce qualified dividends in taxable investment accounts while allocating funds that produce ordinary dividends to IRAs can be an effective way to realize income at preferable tax rates.

There are a variety of investments that high-income earners can consider for tax efficiency, such as tax-exempt municipal bonds.

Take advantage of itemized deductions. Filers who itemize can deduct the interest paid on their mortgages, state and local taxes, medical expenses in excess of 7.5 percent of their adjusted gross income, and more.

Tax planning for small business owners

Small business owners face a different set of tax challenges, but also a new set of opportunities to save. Tax planning should be considered an integral part of managing any small business. Here are a few tactics.

Company structure and tax status. Be sure you have the most tax-efficient structure for your business: sole proprietor, partnership, LLC, S corporation or C corporation. A business’s structure affects how its owners file taxes. If your company has outgrown its structure, you may be able to switch to a structure that can save money on taxes.

Pass-through businesses—sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and S corporations—are not taxed as corporations (or on the business level), but instead are through the owners’ individual tax returns

Tax deductions. One of the most common small-business deductions is the home office deduction. Taxpayers are able to deduct expenses ranging from real estate taxes to utilities. The amounts are usually based on the square footage of the space used, space used regularly and exclusively for business. 

Many businesses can also take advantage of the qualified business income, or QBI, deduction, which allows small business owners to deduct up to 20 percent of their share in the company’s income.

These are just a few of the strategies available for small business owners. Other tactics include leveraging tax credits, deferring income, and setting up retirement accounts. As a small business grows, generally so do its tax challenges as well as tax opportunities.

Tax planning for real estate investors

Investing in real estate is traditionally the most popular way to build wealth, and locating tax-saving opportunities is as essential a part of real estate investing as locating the right properties. Employing the right strategies can save real estate investors thousands on their tax bills annually.

Tactics these investors should explore include minimizing capital gains taxes, taking full advantage of deductions, and deferring tax with tax incentives. These investors also have the ability to borrow against the equity they’ve built in their properties with cash-out refinances, which provide cash for new investments.

Again, employing tax strategies is an integral part of managing the investment, one that takes ongoing research as tax regulations constantly change.

Tax savings for families 

Managing a family is not unlike managing a small business, with tax planning playing a central role in financial success. It’s essential for parents to learn what deductions and exemptions are available, a situation that has been in flux over the past five years. Tax cuts for corporations passed in Congress in 2017 erased the personal exemption, though offered a higher standard deduction for some families. More changes came in the wake of the pandemic, with the American Rescue Plan in 2021 raising the maximum child tax credit.

Parents should also explore the earned income credit, the adoption credit, and other family tax options.

Tax planning strategies for retirement

Pre-retirement is arguably the most important stage for tax planning. Here, retirement accounts take center stage. Contributions to 401(k)’s, and both Traditional and Roth IRAs should be maximized. People planning to retire should learn how to manage and eventually come up with a distribution strategy from various accounts to improve the tax efficiency of retirement income.

This includes making catch-up contributions, taking advantage of the saver’s credit, and avoiding early withdrawal penalties. It’s also essential to time retirement account withdrawals on a year-to-year basis.

Federal employee retirement tax planning

Federal employees need to look at additional considerations. With the exception of tax-free accounts such as Roth accounts, retirement income is still taxed. This includes income from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP), and Social Security—which are taxed differently depending on your income, location, and other factors.

These retirement income sources have their own specific tax rules. For instance, the part of FERS benefits based on your own contributions are not taxed, while the part based on government contributions and interest are. As for Social Security, up to 85 percent of benefits may be taxed depending on your income.

Federal employees must also consider TSP contributions, IRA and Roth conversions, and health savings accounts.


Two things are certain in life: taxes, and constant changes in tax laws. This makes consulting with a tax professional beneficial, especially for people with multiple income sources, people who plan to move to a different state or country, and people who want to leave a legacy for their heirs. Taking deliberate steps to manage your taxes now, and in the future, can potentially allow you and your loved ones to keep more of what you’ve worked hard to earn.

Financial Planning

How To Find The Right Financial Advisor Near You?

When it comes to choosing a financial advisory firm, a well-thought-out and systematic approach is crucial. A financial advisor providing guidance for financial planning in your state should be well-versed in the laws, regulations, and practices related to these areas.

Before searching for a financial advisor, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve financially.

Whether you need help with retirement planning, investment management, estate planning, or different financial matters, identifying your specific goals will help you find an advisor with the right expertise.

When searching for the right financial advisor in near you, it is crucial to consider their background and areas of expertise.

Key Considerations for Choosing a Financial Advisor Near You:

By considering key factors such as Assets Under Management (AUM), client count, fee structure, firm age, and clients per advisor, you can make an informed decision that aligns with your financial goals and preferences.

Some of the specific areas of knowledge that a financial advisor in your neighbourhood should possess include:

1. State Tax Laws: Understanding states’ tax laws, including income tax, property tax, and sales tax allows firms to provide clients with relevant tax planning strategies.

2. Estate Planning Laws: Familiarity with estate planning laws, including wills, trusts, probate, and inheritance taxes, to offer compliant estate planning guidance.

3. State Specific Retirement Accounts: Knowledge of state-specific rules for retirement accounts like IRAs and 401(k) plans, helping clients optimize their retirement savings.

4. State Programs and Incentives: Awareness of state programs and incentives related to tax planning and real estate investments, advising clients on how to utilize these opportunities.

5. Networking and Professional Connections: Having strong local connections within the financial and legal community in the region to collaborate with other professionals, such as tax and estate planning attorneys, who possess specific knowledge of state laws and regulations.

To Find The Right Financial Advisor, Near You, Follow These Steps:

1. Check for Locally Registered  & Certified Investment Advisors:

Look for financial advisors who are registered either with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) or the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

These organizations provide databases where you can search for registered advisors in your area.

Additionally, you can confirm an advisor’s certification by visiting the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board’s website. Other reputable resources to explore include the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), local Chambers of Commerce, and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

Ensure they don’t have any disciplinary actions or complaints against them by checking with the SEC, FINRA, or state regulatory agencies.

2. Financial Directories:

Consider local financial directories such as SmartAdvisor Match by SmartAssetTM, WiserAdvisor, FPA Planner Search etc to find top financial advisors near you.

If you’re specifically looking for fee-only or fee-first financial advisors, you can explore directories like Garrett Planning Network, Fee-Only Network, XY Planning Network etc.

3. Search Engine Maps

Use mapping services like Google Maps, Bing Maps, and others. Enter keywords such as “financial advisor near me” or “portfolio management firm near me” to conduct local searches.

Pay attention to ratings and reviews to assess the quality and reputation of financial advisors or firms in your area.

Financial Advisor Near Me On Google Maps

Additionally, reading online testimonials and recommendations from past clients can provide valuable insights into an advisor’s performance and client satisfaction.

For individuals with specific financial goals like real estate investments and tax planning, it is recommended to review their websites, brochures, or LinkedIn profiles to understand their areas of specialization and experience.

Explore our service areas near Maryland and Virginia :

Finding the Most Suitable Financial Advisory Firm Near You For Your Needs.

1. Check Credentials and Licenses:

Verify that the financial advisors you are considering hold the necessary licenses and certifications. Look for certifications such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), as they demonstrate the advisor’s qualifications and expertise.

Additionally, ensure that your chosen advisor is a fiduciary, as this guarantees that they are legally obligated to act in your best interests.

2. Evaluate Disclosures and Negative Records:

As you narrow down your options, thoroughly evaluate any disclosures or negative records associated with the firms. It is essential to choose firms with clean records to provide you with peace of mind and confidence in their services.

3. Clients Per Advisor:

Prefer firms with a lower ratio of clients per financial advisor. A lower client-to-advisor ratio means that the advisor can provide personalized recommendations and tailored financial strategies that align with your unique situation.

Consider whether the firms primarily serve individual investors and have financial planners on staff.

Some major well known firms may prioritize serving corporate or institutional clients, which could impact the level of emphasis on individual investor needs.

4. Account Minimums:

Take note of the account minimums set by the advisors. Some firms may have no set minimums, while others may require a significant investment. Understanding these minimums will give you an idea of the types of investors the advisors typically serve.

5. Consider Fees and Compensation Structure:

Financial advisors may charge fees in different ways, such as hourly fees, flat fees, or a percentage of assets under management. Make sure you have a clear understanding of their fee structure and how it aligns with your budget and financial goals.

Pay close attention to the fee structure of each firm. Fee-only advisors, who earn money solely from client fees rather than commissions, tend to have fewer conflicts of interest.

Understanding how advisors earn money will help you determine if their fee structure aligns with your financial situation and goals.

6. Consider Firm History and Longevity:

Consider the history and longevity of each firm. Firms with a longer track record often offer a greater depth of experience and stability, which can be advantageous in managing your financial affairs.

7. Interview Multiple Advisors:

Lastly, schedule initial consultations or interviews with several financial advisors. During these meetings, ask questions about their experience, investment philosophy, fees, and how they will work with you to achieve your goals.

Pay attention to their communication style, willingness to listen, and their ability to explain complex financial concepts in a way that you understand.

By taking these factors into account and conducting thorough research, you can find the financial advisory firm that best suits your needs and goals.

Use our guide of questions that are essential to ask an advisor before you hire them.

20 Questions to Ask a Financial Advisor

Don’t make a mistake by working with the wrong financial advisor. Ask the right questions to determine if a financial advisor is right for you.

The Bottom Line

Some financial advisory services are much more hands-on and personal than others. When it comes to getting help with your financial situation, including managing your budget, making important financial decisions, and understanding your overall financial health, it’s important to find a financial advisor who will take the time to really get to know you.

This might involve meeting in person to talk about more complicated or sensitive topics that require a deeper level of understanding and trust.

On the other hand, if you just need someone to keep an eye on and make occasional adjustments to your conservative, long-term investment portfolio, you may not need as much personal interaction.

This type of oversight can often be done without a lot of in-depth conversations or face-to-face meetings.

Ultimately, choose a financial advisor whom you feel comfortable with and trust to handle your financial matters. It’s important to have a good rapport and open communication with your advisor, as you will be working together to achieve your financial goals.

We are a fee-only, fiduciary wealth management firm in Rockville, Maryland. Offering a range of services from investment management to personal financial planning, retirement planning, and everything in between.

If you have any questions about our firm, our services, or how our expert fiduciary advisors can help you achieve your financial goals, call us today at ​301-670-0994.

Schedule Your Free 3o Min. Consultation Today!

Financial Planning

What is Financial Planning & How is it Different From Investment Management?

By Jon Powell, CFP®

Do you need financial planning or investment management? To answer that question, you need to have a grasp on your financial goals, and also understand that advisors have different specialities. 

In this article, we’ll define the differences between financial planning and investment management, as well as detail our process for helping you determine which approach is best.

Financial Planning vs. Investment Management

According to the CFP Board, financial planning is a collaborative process that helps maximize a client’s potential for meeting life goals through financial advice that integrates relevant elements of the client’s personal and financial circumstances.

Essentially, it’s a holistic process that looks at all parts of a client’s financial situation to create a customized plan to achieve their financial goals. It includes the following subject areas:

  1. Retirement planning
  2. Education planning
  3. Tax planning
  4. Investment planning
  5. Estate planning
  6. Risk management and insurance planning

Investment management, on the other hand, aims to meet particular investment goals for the benefit of clients whose money a financial professional has the responsibility of overseeing.

It is a siloed service that does not necessarily incorporate the other aspects of a client’s unique financial situation. Financial planning usually includes investment management, but investment management does not automatically include financial planning.  

Our Financial Planning Process

At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, our team focuses on investment management and financial planning; we will be in your corner for the issues that inevitably come up.

We strive to work with clients whose goals and dreams are a fit with our expertise and background. To determine a fit and bring clients onboard we typically follow an established process:

  1. We’ll schedule a brief initial meeting, so you can meet our team and we can learn about you, your goals, and your hopes. After the initial meeting, you’re welcome to reach out again with follow-up questions. If you prefer, we’re comfortable meeting over the phone or virtually.
  2. If we agree to work together, we’ll ask you to complete enrollment documents, and discuss your financial situation and needs in greater depth to start building your financial plan. This process usually takes several weeks.
  3. Next, we’ll schedule a meeting to walk you through the initial draft of the financial plan we’ve developed. We’ll make any needed adjustments based on your feedback, and then put the plan into place.
  4. Once your plan is up and running, our work isn’t done. We’ll check in regularly with you to ensure your plan is on track and reflects your current circumstances. And remember that as a fiduciary, we’re always available to provide an update or to address any questions or concerns.

We pride ourselves on being a stabilizing influence when our clients face times of uncertainty, whether that be market volatility, family issues, or when they just need a sounding board.

Are You Looking for Comprehensive Financial Planning?

If you are looking for comprehensive financial planning that includes strategic investment management, we would love to hear from you.

At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, we work with pre-retirees, retirees, and government workers to create a financial plan or investment strategy tailored to your needs. To get started, reach out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email

Financial Planning

Need A Financial Check Up?

No matter your goal, from saving for retirement to understanding your risk tolerance, working with a financial professional is beneficial for many different reasons. And as one of our valued clients, you understand this! We work with our clients through economic ups and downs, personal changes, and financial goal-setting. 

Do you know someone who would also benefit from this hands-on approach? If so, working with a financial advisor could make the world of difference, especially as we enter a new year with new goals.

A Financial Check-Up

You can think of a second opinion as a financial check-up, just like a physical check-up or eye exam you’d get from your doctor. Meeting with your friend or family member, we’ll take the time to get to know them and their unique financial situation, ask them to outline their financial goals, and review their current plan, 401(k), investment portfolio, insurance policies, and more.

This allows us to determine where they stand and where they want to be so that we are on the same page with their objectives.

We’ll also answer any questions they may have about the market, strategies, or fundamentals of financial planning and principles. Then we can apply their concerns, ideas, and aims to their current plan to see how everything lines up. 

The Benefits of a Financial Check-Up

Once we have a good overview of their financial picture, we can work together to evaluate and adjust. If their investments, insurance, etc., continue to be well suited to their long-term goals, we’ll gladly tell them so and send them on their way.

If on the other hand, their plan no longer fits their goals, we’ll explain why in a way they can understand. And, if they’d like, we’ll recommend some alternatives. It may be that minor adjustments are needed based on their age, current economic woes, or a change in priorities and plans. 

It never hurts to take a second look at their financial plan to ensure it is up to date, still applicable to all aspects of their life, and ideally suited to achieve their long-term dreams. Regardless of the outcome of our second look, they should be able to move forward with a high level of confidence in their financial plan. 

Do You Know Someone Who Would Benefit From a Financial Check-Up?

Many of our clients are referrals from our other clients, and we value these referrals so much. Over the years, we’ve built strong and long-lasting relationships with clients who not only trust us to manage their assets but also trust us enough to refer us to their loved ones.

The highest compliment you can give us is to let someone else know about your exceptional experience working with Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management.

If you know someone who would benefit from our financial guidance, send them our way and let us help them evaluate where they are now, determine where they would like to go, and address any gaps. You or your loved ones can reach out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email.

Financial Planning

The 6 Biggest Financial Mistakes I See

We’ve been helping clients for decades, and in that time, we’ve seen a few mistakes investors end up making over and over again. From not having a withdrawal strategy in retirement to not seeking professional help with your financial goals, let’s look at the 6 biggest financial mistakes we see—so you don’t commit them yourself. 

1. Not Having a Withdrawal Strategy in Retirement

Financial planning doesn’t stop once you enter retirement. In order to maximize your portfolio longevity, it’s crucial to create a withdrawal strategy and actively monitor your plan in retirement. This is something many people forget or neglect to do, and it can significantly impact their retirement savings over time.

Different financial accounts are taxed at different rates. Traditional IRAs and 401(k)s are taxed at the ordinary income tax rate when you withdraw. Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are taxed beforehand, so the money is withdrawn tax-free. Funds in a taxable investment account are taxed at the capital gains tax rate, which is different from your ordinary income tax rate. 

Creating a withdrawal strategy can help you draw down your various assets at a sustainable rate and do it in a tax-efficient way. 

Additionally, there are many times when it makes sense to convert taxable or tax-advantaged funds (i.e., traditional IRAs) to fully tax-free funds (i.e., Roth IRAs). Known as a Roth conversion, this can greatly improve your tax efficiency in retirement.

It’s not uncommon for clients to resist this strategy, since it involves an up-front tax bill, but over the long term, Roth IRAs provide many benefits that can improve your overall financial plan.

2. Buying High & Selling Low

First and foremost: timing the market doesn’t work. There is no way to predict short-term fluctuations with enough accuracy to consistently make the right decision about when to buy and when to sell. Yet we’ve seen many clients pull their money out of the markets at the bottom and reinvest after investment values have rebounded.

This is the epitome of buying high and selling low—and it’s a mistake to avoid.

It’s natural to feel worried when you see your investment values fall during volatile times, but the last thing you should do is pull out of the markets entirely. When you do this, you’re locking in the low value of your accounts instead of letting them rebound before you withdraw.

Remember, your investments may lose market value, but you don’t lose any money unless you sell while the value is low. 

Similarly, putting your money into a volatile market probably sounds like the last thing you want to do right now, but, actually, the perfect time to buy investments is when they’re at a low. Not only will this allow you to purchase more shares than you would be able to normally, but it will also improve your overall return when the market inevitably rebounds. 

3. Not Diversifying Because Asset Classes Are Underperforming

One of the biggest financial mistakes I see is not understanding diversification and the role it plays in your overall financial plan. It’s one thing to know in theory that investment diversification is a key strategy, but it’s another thing to follow through by staying on top of your portfolio and periodically rebalancing as needed. 

Without vigilance, you may easily find yourself invested too heavily in one industry or one type of investment. Or you may consciously choose to concentrate your position because certain asset classes are underperforming. Just because an asset class is not doing well in the moment does not mean it should be disregarded entirely.

In six months, it could be that the rest of your portfolio is down while that asset class is growing.

True diversification is a risk management strategy. When properly implemented, it balances a mix of assets that do not move in the same directions. When one is up, another might be down, but overall the volatility is reduced.

Diversification can’t guarantee a minimum level of return, but it will at least act as a buffer against the inherent volatility of the market by mixing a wide variety of investments and asset types into a comprehensive portfolio.

4. Drawing Social Security at the Wrong Time

Deciding when to take Social Security benefits is an age-old question that many of my clients face. It can be confusing and overwhelming to navigate, which is why many people take their “best guess” based on information they’ve heard from family, friends, and co-workers. This is a big mistake that could end up costing you in the long run.

For instance, if you collect your benefits too early, you could short-change yourself if you live longer than you expect. On the other hand, if you collect benefits later, you might leave money on the table if you pass away earlier than anticipated.

This issue stems from the fact that Social Security offers three different levels of benefits depending on when you begin collecting. Early collection could result in a permanent reduction of benefits by up to 30%, whereas delayed benefits could increase your benefits by up to 32%.

It is crucial to consider your current health, family history, expected longevity, and need for immediate income when making your decision. Don’t rely on your “best guess.”

5. Underestimating Life Expectancy

Do you know how long your retirement nest egg needs to last? This is a question that no one can answer for certain. It’s impossible to predict how long you’ll live, but it’s not impossible to plan for the best-case scenario. 

Unfortunately, however, many people rely on the average life expectancy to plan their retirement and find themselves running out of money when they live 10-15 years longer. The average life expectancy of Americans has been steadily increasing with the advent of modern medicine and technology. Just age 58 in 1930, the average life expectancy reached age 78 in 2020. 

While it’s important to understand the average, you should also be prepared to live beyond it, especially considering the population living past age 90 increases every year. With that increase in life span comes an increase in the length of retirement, exacerbating the need for an innovative retirement plan that can function in a modern world.

6. Not Reaching Out for Help

Whether you are a teacher, doctor, business owner, or any other professional, you likely don’t have time or simply don’t want to learn the ins and outs of personal finance. Reaching out to an experienced financial professional can help you gain confidence in your financial future and help you avoid the mistakes mentioned here without having to do all the research yourself. 

Now that you know these common mistakes, hopefully you can avoid them, and instead build out a robust financial plan that is aligned with your risk tolerance and goals, and addresses all your needs. Not sure where to start? We can help get you on the right path. Reach out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email

Financial Planning

Financial Pitfalls Federal Employees Should Avoid

By Jon Powell, CFP®

We all face financial pitfalls. Not having a financial plan, starting to save for retirement too late, not being aware of your expenses, and being underinsured are just a few. If you’re a federal employee, however, there are specific financial pitfalls you need to avoid to ensure your financial future stays on track.

Let’s discuss a few points that can help you navigate some of the intricacies involved with your specific financial situation and special benefits.

Thrift Savings Plans

One important benefit federal employees are entitled to is a thrift savings plan (TSP). A common financial pitfall among these retirement savings plans has to do with how they are invested. The federal employee must understand that TSPs are intended for long-term investing, not just to the point when retirement begins, but through retirement.

Because of this, the federal employee must invest in specific funds that align with that long-term investment approach. The funds that are allowed inside a TSP are not available to the general public. Some of these funds are titled C, S, I, L, F, and G funds.

With this long-term approach in mind, the federal employee should check how the TSP is invested, making sure that it is allocated more so with stock funds (C, S, and I). However, if you are in the later years of retirement, it’s important to ratchet down the allocation of stock to an increased allocation of the fixed-income funds (F and G).

In addition to how the funds are invested, it’s equally important to do your best to contribute the maximum amount allowed when you are younger and when you reach age 50 (eligible to contribute an additional “catch-up” contribution).

Failure to Include or Update Beneficiary Designations

Some of the special accounts or forms that federal employees may have to be aware of include the following:

  • Unpaid compensation and unused annual leave of a deceased federal employee
  • Federal employees group life insurance
  • Thrift savings plan
  • CSRS or FERS

The financial pitfall that we typically see here is not including or updating beneficiary designations on the above-mentioned accounts or forms. This is important, especially if the federal employee gets married, has children, gets divorced, or experiences any other major life change.

Emergency Funds

Having adequate emergency funds applies to all individuals, but this point is also important to make when considering pitfalls for federal employees. While federal employees have very strong job security, emergency funds still play a major part in their financial plan.

The reason for this is because of the potential for a government shutdown, which could eliminate certain sectors or lay off less-tenured employees.

Failure to Stay Informed

Benefits for federal employees can get complicated and they may change over your career. Because of this, many federal agencies offer multi-day seminars for mid-career employees and employees nearing retirement.

To stay abreast and more informed, it’s a great idea to attend and actively participate in such seminars when possible. The earlier you start understanding the nuances that federal employees are faced with, the better off you will be to make decisions today that have a big impact on your financial future.

Take the Next Step

At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, we work closely with our clients to design a financial plan that provides confidence and clarity while also helping to safeguard their future. We help our clients plan wisely so they can live fully by building the retirement they’ve been dreaming of.

If you’re nearing retirement, are already enjoying your golden years, or are a government employee and you don’t already have an advisor helping you on your financial journey, reach out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email


Financial Planning

We’re Never Too Busy to Help Someone You Care About

By Jon Powell, CFP®

What’s your top priority right now? I bet it feels impossible to pick just one, right? We’re all juggling countless priorities, but only a select few make it to the top of the list. Is it family? Or maybe health or a sense of purpose? Money might not top your list, but don’t underestimate its importance.

It’s been said that money isn’t everything, but everything needs money, and it’s true: money affects every part of your life and can give you the security and stability that positively impacts the things that matter most. Due to its far-reaching impact, managing money often leads to stress and worry.

That’s why a investment advisor plays one of the most prominent roles in a person’s life, forming a long-lasting relationship and providing objective counsel.  

But how do you find an advisor you can trust and with whom you’ll want to work for the long haul? We at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management understand this can be an overwhelming and intimidating process.

Trusting someone with your hard-earned money is not a decision you take lightly. Knowing this, we are honored to have the opportunity to continue serving more and more families and individuals who conscientiously choose to let us in on their financial journey. 

We place the utmost value on our clients, and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve the important people in their lives as well. We gladly welcome the chance to connect and get to know new clients who may benefit from the services we provide. As an integral part of our continued growth, your referrals are the highest compliment.

The FJ Wealth Management Difference

We’ve been fortunate to work with a wide range of clients who refer their colleagues, friends, and family members to us. We believe so many people have referred others to us for a few different reasons:

  1. A personalized real-world approach. No two individuals’ financial service needs will be the same, which is why we create a plan focused on your financial goals. We take the time to outline a tailored strategy based on your specific needs, goals, and circumstances. 
  2. Strong relationships. We prioritize a hands-on client-centered approach, which has led us to build long-lasting relationships with so many of our clients. We’re proud to serve as a go-to resource and support system when someone faces a tough decision or goes through a life transition.
  3. A long-term commitment. We recognize that financial planning and investing is not a static process since life changes happen and investment objectives can shift over time. That’s why we provide ongoing guidance and support. Whether it’s saving for your children’s college education, planning for retirement, or preserving assets for future generations, we seek to provide the financial service resources and continuous management necessary to keep you working toward your goals.
  4. A dedicated team. With a diverse team of seasoned professionals who maintain a high-touch and personalized experience, we strive to help our clients simplify complex decisions about their money. We hope you feel more confident as you navigate life’s challenges and planning opportunities with a dedicated team on your side.

The People We Serve Best

We at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management desire to partner with you and help carry your financial burden, aiming to make your wealth work for you, not the other way around.

Because we like to form trusted and close relationships with our clients, we strive to work with people whom we believe we can best serve, from working professionals, government workers, and executives to business owners and retirees.

While they come from a variety of backgrounds and professions, they want to delegate their financial matters to a trusted professional who offers stewardship and guidance so they’re free to focus on what’s important. 

Do You Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Our Services?

Our goal is to help our clients plan wisely, so they can live fully. This means we don’t just want to take financial matters off already full plates, but we also value providing personalized attention and care to each of our clients—as well as their loved ones. In fact, this is one of the reasons we work with a select number of clients!

We’re here to help answer questions about your portfolio or strategies, walk you through a new life milestone, and help build your dream retirement. Do you know someone who needs answers to their questions or unbiased advice? We’re never too busy to help!

If you’re a client with our firm and you’ve enjoyed working with us, we hope you’ll refer a friend, colleague, or family member who may benefit from our services. Consider sending this article to them, and if they’re interested in partnering with us, they can schedule their complimentary introductory meeting by calling 301-670-0994 or emailing 

Financial Planning

Why I Became a Financial Advisor

By Jon Powell, CFP®

For many people, finances are a major cause of stress. And sometimes that stress, coupled with financial insecurity, can negatively impact relationships and decisions.

As I saw this play out in those around me, I became determined to pave a different path for my life and relationships, pursuing financial literacy so money stress would not rule my life. 

I took some classes on the topic, and my passion for financial planning began to take shape. What started out as a personal pursuit has turned into a fulfilling career, one where I get to help others manage their finances and become educated about their options so they can focus on what’s most important to them. 

Building My Career

With a clear goal in mind, I obtained a bachelor’s degree in financial planning from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University and earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. After graduation, I spent a handful of years gaining experience and knowledge in investment, risk management, and financial planning at local wealth management firms. 

I joined the incredible team at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management almost a decade ago, and now, as a financial planner and portfolio manager, I have the privilege of building long-lasting relationships with my clients, helping them carry their financial burdens and walking with them through life’s ups and downs.

With a focus on personalized services and objective advice, I strive to put my clients first and organize, develop, and deliver customized plans. 

I spend my days serving clients who are nearing or just entering retirement, helping them prepare for this pivotal milestone and ensuring that every piece of their plan is in place so they can retire the way they want to, without fear or uncertainty.

Why I Love What I Do

I became a financial advisor because I didn’t want to see people’s lives affected by money stress. And today, 10 years later, the most fulfilling part of what I do is seeing the relief on my clients’ faces when they build a financial foundation and walk out of my office with a road map to their goals.

The best part of my days is when I can sit down with clients, teach them what’s needed to secure their finances, and show them how they can experience financial confidence. 

If you want to walk into your future with excitement instead of worry, I’d love to help. Take the first step by reaching out to us at 301-670-0994 or by email.

About Jon

Jon Powell is a financial planner and portfolio manager at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only fiduciary firm that has been helping clients plan for and enjoy retirement for more than 40 years.

With more than 10 years of experience, Jon is passionate about providing unbiased advice that puts his clients first. He considers it a privilege to carry some of the financial burden for his clients and educate them so they can make empowered decisions for their futures.

Jon is also the primary author and curator of the Ferguson-Johnson Wealth Management blog. 

Jon graduated from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University with a bachelor’s degree in financial planning and holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification.

When he’s not serving his clients, you can find Jon spending time with his wife, Erica, and their pets, a black lab named Nugget and an orange tabby cat named Kiwi.

He loves to play tennis and golf and won’t turn down a good board game. Jon is a diehard fan of D.C.- area sports teams; you might see him at a Washington Nationals game. To learn more about Jon, connect with him on LinkedIn.

Financial Planning

Annual Enrollment for Federal Employees

By Jon Powell, CFP®

It’s that time of year again when you start getting notices about open season and all the changes coming to your employee benefits. Even though you’d probably rather turn a blind eye and keep going on with your life, too many people set their benefits and forget them and miss out on opportunities to update their coverage. 

The open enrollment period for your 2022 coverage is fast approaching, beginning on November 8th and going until December 13th. This is your chance to review your benefits, learn about any coverage or cost changes, and make some decisions. 

Here’s what you need to know about the annual enrollment period for government employees.

Does Open Season Apply to Me?

If you are enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) program, the Federal Employees Dental and Vision Insurance Program (FEDVIP), or you take advantage of the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS), you should pay attention to this annual enrollment period. The life insurance and long-term care insurance programs are not included during this time. 

What Can I Do During Open Season?

For both the FEHB and FEDVIP programs, federal employees can enroll, change their plan, make adjustments to their plan options, update enrollment type if your family’s coverage needs have changed, or cancel your plan. If you choose to do nothing, your plans will automatically continue.

That is not the case with the various federal FSA programs. If you do not re-enroll during open season, your FSA will lapse. Even if you don’t want to contribute for 2022, keep in mind that any unused funds from 2021 will not carry over if you don’t re-enroll.

What’s Changing?

Every year there are typically some increases in premium costs and individual plans may change their option. The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will announce specific details and the new 2022 premium rates on their website closer to the start of open season. You will also be able to compare plans and find information applicable to your job or status (active employee or retired).

Start preparing now by thinking about the health needs you experienced this year and whether or not your health insurance met those needs. Then think ahead to next year. Are there any life changes coming your way? Will you be getting married? Adding to your family? Do you take new medications now? If so, consider increasing your coverage or adding coverage for your spouse.

The Takeaway 

In the midst of what sometimes feels like a world gone mad, take some time to prioritize your employee benefits. The government provides these as a thank-you for your hard work, so make sure you maximize them and use your open enrollment period to make decisions that align with your life. 

And if you haven’t heard anything about open enrollment, reach out to the human resources department at your work to find out if there is a scheduled meeting or webinar to highlight this year’s benefits. Remember, your HR department is there to walk you through these decisions and answer any questions. 

At Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, we specialize in helping government employees manage their finances and prepare for retirement. If you have questions about your government benefits or have yet to start planning for your future, we’d love to help. Please don’t hesitate to call our office at 301-670-0994 or email us

Financial Planning

Why I Became a Financial Advisor (Derek Johnson)

By Derek Johnson, CRPC®

When I was a college student dabbling in the investment world, I had no idea my interest in the markets would turn into a lifelong career. This personal experience of researching investments and watching my money grow inspired me to do the same for others. So I switched my major to finance—and the rest is history! 

The Journey

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland, I started working as an investment advisor representative at Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management, where, more than 20 years later, I serve as principal, director, and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™ (CRPC®).

As the son of a successful small business owner, I understand and appreciate the value of money and the hard work that goes into building wealth. I take that understanding into my client relationships, striving to design financial plans that are customized and built for the long term.

My pre-retiree clients come to me with questions like “When can I retire?” or “How much do I need to save so I can retire without worrying about running out of money?” And my retiree clients want to make sure they have a solid distribution plan in place so they can enjoy their hard-earned golden years.

I spend my days helping my clients address these concerns—and the ones they haven’t even thought of yet. 

As head of our investment committee, I also develop portfolio strategies and implement the best funds and products to suit our clients’ needs. I make it a point to stay in contact with leading academics in the areas of portfolio and wealth management so we can continue to provide the right investment opportunities that get you closer to your goals. 

The Best Part

I still feel like the motivated, excited young adult who discovered what investments can do for your money. I love knowing that my skills and knowledge help others experience confidence so they can look forward to their future.

There’s nothing like celebrating with my clients when they reach a goal or seeing the relief on their faces when they realize they aren’t alone on their financial journey.

If that’s something you want to experience as well, reach out to our Ferguson Johnson Wealth Management team at 301-670-0994 or by email.

About Derek

Derek Johnson is an investment advisor representative and is the principal and director at Ferguson-Johnson Wealth Management, an independent, fee-only fiduciary firm that has been helping clients plan for and enjoy retirement for more than 40 years.

Derek also serves as head of the investment committee; in this capacity, he is in regular contact with leading academics in the areas of portfolio and wealth management and has presented research on the benefits of asset class allocation to the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII).

He holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™ (CRPC®) professional designation.

Derek is known for providing honest advice and excellent service to his pre-retiree and retiree clients and feels privileged to be a trusted resource and support his clients can rely on.

Derek has more than 20 years of experience and earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Maryland. Outside of work, Derek enjoys spending time with his wife, Tiffany, and their two daughters, Sloane and Adalynn. He also loves football and traveling. To learn more about Derek, connect with him on LinkedIn.